Glasgow's Vlure play YES in Manchester. Julia Mason was there to experience the thrill of a return to live gigs.
For my first gig of 2021, I had to travel from my hometown of Edinburgh to Manchester, a round trip of 450 miles. Currently there are no socially distanced gigs in Scotland – so this simply had to be done.
The fact I was going to see the Glaswegian band Vlure plus it was the day after the England v Scotland 0-0 Euro 2020 football match added to the thrill of it all. Or as a previous Glasgow band put it Simply Thrilled Honey.
Just packing a bag, sorting out travel documents and getting on a train all felt very surreal after such a long time. Before I knew it I was in the pub beside the venue - Manchester’s YES - for pre-gig pints. Some rituals will never die.
I could not believe my timing when I stepped out of the pub and there were Vlure, all five of them, outside the venue. Naturally I babbled that I’d come from Scotland to see them, and I wished them a great gig. They were so appreciative. Photos duly taken, it was into the queue and the sorting out of the Track and Trace app. Life really has changed.
Once in the Pink Room at YES the chairs were spaced out, masks had to be on when you were moving around, and drinks ordered via an app.
Local support band Document were perfect for Vlure. They showed no sign of nerves. The drummer in particular was grinning from ear to ear. They managed 8 or 9 songs in their half hour slot. Another 5-piece with three guitarists, drummer and singer, all looking sharp and clearly having a ball. Document were accomplished and confident, engaging with the audience which cannot be easy when you are the support playing to a seated crowd. A 5 track EP A Camera Wanders All Night was released in 2020 and there are already gigs booked for elsewhere in the UK for later in the year.
In the interval I got chatting to other gig-goers. What a great venue YES is. Small, intimate, friendly and they really have got the hang of social distancing, politely reminding gig-goers to put their masks back on.
Vlure came on stage with a poet who said a few words before their set. And so it began, a pulsating, intense 45 mins of super-charged guitar driven electronica. Vlure are from Glasgow (frontman Hamish Hutcheson, guitarists Niall and Conor Goldie), the Hague (drummer Carol Kriekaard) and Reading (Alex Pearson who plays synths). Collectively they have built a band on what they describe as ‘foundations of genre bending, honesty and resistance’. The opening track tonight was Desire the B side of the current single Shattered Faith. Frontman Hamish demanded a response from the audience screaming “C’mon” with arms outstretched. The seated crowd responded accordingly creating an energy in the room.
At times this was euphoric dance music but with the addition of Carol’s crashing drums. I couldn’t help but notice the roses attached to the mike stands. A nod to one of Manchester’s famous sons perhaps? The thunderous, stomping electronica continued and as someone who does like to dance at every opportunity it was very unnatural to stay seated. Hamish decided he was going to have a wander through the crowd, which made for some slightly nervous looking audience members, while others were transfixed.
Current single Shattered Faith was a highlight and the audience were completely with the band, cheering and clapping wildly during the song, never mind waiting until the end!
One track played has the lyrics “this is my church” and it felt a perfect mantra for the return of the shared experience of live music, for both performers and gig-goers.
Intense and confident Vlure won over a room full of gig lovers who have been starved off such experiences for so long. With a confident swagger they demanded a reaction from the crowd, who were overjoyed to provide one because the music was pulverising and energising.
Vlure have only released one track to date ‘Shattered Faith’ on Permanent Creep Records. The support band Document have released more tracks with their 2020 EP. This was the final night of 4 socially distanced gigs with Birkenhead, Bristol and London preceding Manchester. Perhaps for this reason we got an encore – a repeat of Desire as I suspect they had already played their full repertoire!
The band were throwing out the roses and the crowd were loving every second, desperate to make this live music experience last as long as possible. After the gig Vlure hung around to shake hands, chat and have photos taken. I politely asked for the set list!
After not attending a proper gig since Feb 2020, I had forgotten just how special the shared live music experience is. The adrenalin was pumping and chatting to others it was clear some people did not know Vlure but took the opportunity to attend a gig.
And what a gig to experience as part of the ever so slow road to recovery and the eventual resumption of the barrier and the moshpit. It can’t come soon enough…….